Interestingly, I have received questions from several different readers which address the same basic issue— the occurrence in these people’s lives of one disaster after another, a pile-up of mishaps that have ranged from sudden death of someone near to that person, followed by crippling illness in another family member and subsequent loss of their own job and career, to another reader’s experience of an assault against them with attempt to murder, followed by continuous stalking by the now released assailant and the occurrence of a subsequent life threatening illness to themselves which has rendered them unable to work and support themselves — and other overwhelmingly difficult situations that have occurred in people’s lives, one after another. The basic question these people posed (not in identical words of course) was, “How can EFT help with this? Any ideas would be appreciated.”
Answer to These Several Readers:
Some questions are almost unanswerable. EFT, like any other self-healing technique, can only be as effective as the intention behind its use –– what you want it to do, and in this case, what all of you are willing to WORK HARD to make it do. It is your own willingness to change the way these events impact you that will bring about beneficial results using EFT under such extreme circumstances.
Without a determination to persevere in its use, my answer, sadly, would have to be, “I’m afraid EFT can do nothing to help you here”. In other words, your intention must become the spirit that animates what would otherwise become only a mechanical intervention, a mere series of rules to follow, and therefore quite ineffectual under these very challenging conditions.
Let me explain more clearly what I mean.
You describe a series of traumatizing circumstances that you have had to face, one after another, in your lives. Can EFT change the fact that they happened? The answer to this is clearly “NO”. EFT cannot change the past, it cannot change what is “out there”, it cannot alter the facts.
If, however, you are asking whether EFT can change the way this unfortunate string of events is going to affect the REST OF YOUR LIFE, then my answer to this is “yes” –– although it is a qualified “yes”.
I qualify my answer because each one of you has described so many different issues, multiple layers of trauma that undoubtedly will take a good deal of work with EFT, or any other form of therapy, to neutralize and bring you to a place where you have true peace within.
It is evident that there is much work to be done, many issues to address. There can be no instant magic here, but there will be powerful assistance if you have the stamina to pursue your painful memories one by one and use EFT to cut down the multiple “trees” in the forest of your memories (to use Gary Craig’s analogy of the “forest-trees”).
If you have someone work with you who can guide you in the use of EFT for these memories then the chances of arriving at a very different place in your life despite these unfortunate circumstances, will be greatly accelerated. An experienced EFT therapist is not only highly desirable under these circumstances, but may be absolutely necessary in order to overcome them. If you are already working with a therapist, asking them to consider learning EFT and helping you apply it would be extremely beneficial.
It is true, of course, that some people, by means of sheer willpower and unswerving determination, have worked alone with EFT (no therapist helping them) to overcome severe problems such as clinical depression, post traumatic stress disorder and the like. But these people never asked the question, “How do I think EFT can help here?”, they just made sure it WOULD help by doing EFT repeatedly, day after day, week after week, month after month, or for years if necessary.
In other words, these people did whatever was necessary to MAKE EFT work. They undoubtedly found out all they could about the method, probably took Gary Craig’s foundational course or at least read his EFT manual, and then went to work on their multiple problems with the kind of determination which, given the right technique (and EFT apparently was this for them) indeed works wonders.
My answer to you, therefore, actually involves a question. I need to ask, “What it is that you want EFT to help you get rid of in your life?”
This is a crucial question because it is all too easy to want to be rid of the potentially devastating series of events, and give so much attention to the events themselves that you fail to observe carefully their effects on YOU. You may find yourself thinking much more about what happened to you, than you do about how you have responded to it.
However, people who have suffered life challenges such as you describe typically experience a variety of symptoms such as depression, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, sleeplessness, or possibly a host of stress related physical conditions. Once recognized and related to the total problem, any or all of these reactions can be targeted using EFT to go back in memory and take the charge off of each of the traumas involved in turn. But first the person has to decide, within themselves, that it is their OWN REACTION TO THE EVENTS that they want to change, and then they must apply this knowledge in a precise and targeted manner, “How would you like to RESPOND DIFFERENTLY to your present circumstances?” This is ultimately the only question that EFT can address.
The fact that sometimes, often seemingly mysteriously, one’s life circumstances may take a sharp turn for the better after healing has taken place within and the person now faces life very differently than they did before, is one of those gracious side effects of EFT than cannot be directly sought. You must always work with yourself on yourself, and then you MAY have an extremely gratifyingly byproduct of this process which is that your outer circumstances will then change. This may happen or it may not, but your first allegiance is to yourself and your own emotions.
I would therefore urge you to follow a systematic plan in order to find out what EFT can do for you with respect to these past, and in some instances continuing, traumas. Here are my suggestions:
Sit down with pen and paper. In a column on the left-hand side of the page, write down all the negative reactions that these events have created in you.
Write exhaustively. Leave nothing out. Keep adding to your list if necessary. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Don’t just include the obvious reactions that you have had such as for example developing fibromyalgia, or having extreme tension, or feeling a sense of hopelessness etc. but also go for the subtler and often even more important categories of response such as possibly :
–– a deep distrust of people engendered by these events
–– intense resentment
— despair and hopelessness
— haunting fears
Your list should be uncensored. Confront your feelings squarely head-on. Don’t water down concepts or words. Don’t be polite. Open up and say clearly what you have needed to say (or to scream out) throughout all of this series of distressing events.
Write down all of your reactions one by one, under one another, in the left hand column of your page. This can take up more than one page, so let the list be as long as you want. Then proceed to the next task which is…
To make another column, this one on the right hand side of the page. In it you are to write down the way you would WANT to feel about each single feeling you are working on if you had a magic wand that could transform your feelings in the left hand column into exactly the way you would IDEALLY like to feel instead. These are your Desired Responses, and are written down in the right hand column.
Never mind whether you believe it will ever be possible to feel so positively given the difficulties of your background. Just write down how you would LIKE TO FEEL, and write this statement directly opposite the negative reaction you don’t want to have any more. Many times your positive reactions will be the exact opposite of the negative state that you do not want, although this will not always be the case.
Let me give you some examples.
Suppose you have written down in the left hand column the negative reaction of “rage”. If so, in the right hand positive column you will write down the OPPOSITE reaction. You might for example use one of the following phrases (or find one more appropriate for you) to describe the positive reaction that is the opposite (to you) of your rage. Some possible opposites are:
Neutral about (whomever, or the circumstance)
At peace (or peaceful).
Calm and confident, etc.
Notice I didn’t use any negative words when composing these opposites. This is important. You are not to say, for example, “no longer enraged” or use any other statement that involves an absence of something undesirable. Repeating the negative emotion in the positive column, EVEN IF YOU SAY YOU DON’T WANT IT, only helps the negative emotion persist, for you will be repeatedly reminding yourself of it in this way.
After you have converted EACH of the negative responses into a correspondingly desirable positive response, you will be ready to apply EFT.
To do so, systematically address each negative entry and spend an entire EFT session, or perhaps several on it, tapping the issue down to a zero or one on the 1 to 10 point Intensity Scale. It may take you days, weeks or months to handle all the negative reactions you have, considering the number of issues you will need to address, but persistence is the name of the game, and will pay off handsomely.
One excellent way to accomplish this is to make an EFT Choice out of each of the positive phrases, and combine this with your negative word or phrase to create an EFT set up phrase. In the example I just gave you might create the following set up phrase:
“Even though I feel enraged (furious, etc.) at (whomever), I choose to feel inwardly calm about what happened“.
If you follow the above steps with persistence, and if possible have an experienced EFT practitioner guide you as you go through some of these painful memories, then there will indeed be something that EFT can do for you!
The adversities in your life have been many and your efforts to prevent them from undermining your life FROM HERE ON will demand much effort. But the payoff can be tremendous this can be a chance to achieve a new beginning for your life. Quite possibly by doing this you can attain a sense of well-being and peace that you have never known before, even before these mishaps occurred. This often happens, and this possibility alone should encourage you to undertake a rigorous plan of action with respect to applying EFT to your multiple traumas. You will, in effect, be making a decision to make EFT work for you DESPITE all the difficulties you have encountered.
Dr. Patricia Carrington, EFT Master